Forum:Nethack sans Elbereth

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The server that I play on (telnet://nethack.csh.rit.edu) has "Elbereth" compiled out, and has for several decades. I once disagreed with this, but after realizing that the scroll of scare monster does the same thing, I conceded that removing the Elbereth trick is more in tune with the spirit of the game, especially now that the trick is very well known.

My question is: how much do people think this prohibition changes the game itself? Almost all advice and strategies mention it as an option. nethackwiki considers Elbereth to be a legitimate part of the game, while Polypiling and Farming are considered minor infractions on the Cheating page.

Davek 05:55, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

I certainly makes the game harder as the get-out-of-dangerous-situations-spamming tactic no longer works. I'd also say that farming is more of an offender than polypiling as you have to exploit NetHack's design deficiencies more to effectively farm.
The DevTeam seems to be a bit partial in regards to Elbereth as it is only a compile option since NetHack 3.0.0. Elbereth itself was already there in Hack 1.0.
Now, people generally don't really like it when you make the game harder. :-) IIRC in RGRN Spork got a lot of criticism because of making Elbereth less effective and people on IRC are even more vocative about that. I myself wouldn't mind removing Elbereth completely but I think the outcry of certain people would be too much trouble.
In UnNetHack, Elbereth got a little bit toned down, mostly for the unique monsters and it also contains Elbereth-tracking (using the patch from bilious). So if you play Elbereth-less, it will be shown in your dump. --Bhaak 08:51, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I was surprised how much of Elbereth can be replaced with movement tactics in my 12-conduct games. Of course, the game was making opponents for a level 3 wizard, while I was typically armed with several pet balrogs, a magic whistle, and a tooled horn. --Tjr 16:52, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
My TAEB AI (TAEB::AI::Planar) was told to use Elbereth only for healing, because I was curious to see how a bot designed to work out tactics for itself would function if it didn't have that option open to it. It also came up with all sorts of interesting tactics, mostly depending on movement. (Things like running in circles around mobs in order to split them up, which works quite well in the bigroom but only with intrinsic/extrinsic speed; and using floating eyes as obstacles.) I've come up with similar tactics myself, like making monsters peaceful in order to use them to hold back other monsters; something like a peaceful dwarf can hold back an entire mob of much more powerful monsters quite easily. Ais523 17:04, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Same here: I'm actively creating circular paths to round around later in case my pet goofs off (razing doors, pushing boulders in a convenient location etc). A horn, mirror, or drum is the most powerful tool but a bit hard to use, because it works well only in large open areas. Ironically, corridors are much more dangerous than open areas, whereas in a normal game it's the other way around. A ring of conflict paired with a floating eye can paralyze opponents. Junk can attract and busy certain monsters. Of course, knowing or guessing where my pet is becomes a crucial skill. --Tjr 17:11, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Wow. It's conversations like this that make me realize just how little of the game I actually know. I'm still so focused on survival I can't say that I've developed much of any strategy other than "be afraid, be very afraid." I'll still try and win on CSH's server, which plays the homegrown BingeHack variant, and does not have Elbereth. I have a feeling the eventual ascension will be just a little bit sweeter. --Davek 01:44, 4 February 2011 (UTC)


Elbereth has always been open to me, I have just never actually used it. Mostly because the only situations I find myself in where it would be useful, I would need to engrave quickly (with a wand of lightning or fire) or an athame (the only of which I ever have used being Magicbane). If I have either of those wands, it is far more likely that zapping them would take care of my immediate problem(s); and if I have ever had Magicbane, it's likely that my spells would do the trick. In fact, the only times I have found myself absolutely in need of an E-square; the offending creature wouldn't respect it anyway.

All that said, I believe that Elbereth is one of those things not to rely on. Not to mention, it only saves you from direct melee attacks. Elbereth's got nothin on that GWTWOD. -- Ipslne 01:32, 11 February 2011 (UTC)